GOT A QUESTION?FLIGHT DECK WINGMAN CAN HELP YOU
Thank you for visiting out Frequently Asked Questions page. Flight Deck Wingman understands just how varied a pilot’s background and experience can be. To help you, we have constructed a list of some of the most frequently asked questions by pilots new to the industry, or perhaps considering a change in direction of their aviation career. If any of you have any new questions, then Flight Deck Wingman would be delighted to answer them for you! Please contact [email protected] directly, or better still why not post a question on the Fight Deck Wingman Facebook page, where you can also find links to current jobs and other useful information.
Inexperienced and Aspiring Pilots
Becoming a pilot is a huge investment, both mentally and financially. The best advice Flight Deck Wingman can give you, is to research very carefully what it means to be a pilot in this day and age. You will find a wealth of information and debate on the internet, and it might also be worth looking at the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), or other similar airline associations to get an impression of what they think the industry is like.
Try to speak to as many pilots as you can in different companies, and ask them for their honest and frank opinion on what they feel about the company they work for, and the industry in general. You might be surprised to hear that many pilots these days would not recommend it as a profession for their children. If after doing all that you decide that it really is for you, then it’s time to start the hard work. The topic is unfortunately too large to cover in this frequently asked questions section, but plenty of information is out there, and at Flight Deck Wingman we will always do our best to answer any general queries or questions you might have about the industry. We all started somewhere! Get in touch with us today.
Well that is certainly the public perception! It is true to say that being a pilot can pay for a good lifestyle and provide for the future. However, this very much depends on the company and the contract that you are employed on. You would be amazed how salaries and associated benefits can vary between companies-sometimes things are not quite as they seem! You must also remember that if you are starting out as a new pilot, you will probably have very large debts to repay from your training costs (often around 100,000 pounds). We must all stand together to protect our terms and conditions in the future. After all, we are responsible for people’s safety each and every time we go to work.
If you’re considering a career as a pilot, then this is certainly something that you should consider. Being an airline pilot is a hugely rewarding profession, that can bring a lifetime of challenges and exciting career progression. However, this is not your average 9 to 5 job! You will work long, disruptive hours, often losing sleep and feeling tired. You will spend time away from family and friends when there is perhaps there is an important occasion to attend. You will most likely have little control over your working routine, often only knowing what you’re doing one month in advance. Weekends can be hard to achieve, as can getting time off during school holidays. Pay and terms and conditions can also vary hugely between airlines, with some airlines only offering schemes such as pay to fly, along with no pension or loss of licence benefits You are only ever one simulator check, or one medical away from losing your licence, and with it your job. Airlines are also largely affected by the economy and job security can sometimes be a concern. It’s true that the glory days of the airline pilot might be gone, but even with all these downsides, if it is something that you genuinely want to do, then Flight Deck Wingman is sure that you will have a most rewarding, enjoyable and successful career.
Good news! The general market is definitely on the up at the moment. The recovery in the economy, plus lower oil prices and an increased global demand for air travel, mean that there has probably never been a better time to get your foot through the airline door. Cadet schemes still exist through companies such as the L3 Academy and Oxford aviation, but as always research all of these companies carefully, and how they intend to find you work at the end of your training. Keep an eye out on the Flight Deck Wingman Facebook page www.facebook.com/flightdeckwingman, where the latest job offers and recruitment taking place will be posted. Please “like” and “share” the page with your friends! Flight Deck Wingman is always available to answer general questions, please feel free to contact us any time.
It is an unfortunate scenario, but any sponsorship programmes are usually heavily oversubscribed. For those of you considering paying for your own licences, then this is not a decision to be taken lightly. You may spend tens of thousands of pounds chasing your dream, only to find that there is no job at the end of it. Also be wary of completing flying training in countries that will not give you an EASA ATPL such as the United States. This may appear like a cheaper way to pay for your flying, but you will only end up having to convert it through more flying in different airspace and weather conditions when you get back to an EASA state. This can often prove to be a false economy. Some traditional avenues such as flying instructing once you have gained your commercial pilots licence seem less popular these days, with everybody expecting to go straight into the big airline job. Don’t discount these options though, they will give you an invaluable toolset when you do you have the experience requirements for a larger airline job, and they keep you in current flying practice while you wait. Flight Deck Wingman is here to support all of you, whether it’s through a general query, or to give you the very best chance of securing sponsorship deal. Contact us today to see how your wingman can help!
Being a flying instructor used to be a well trodden path for aspiring airline pilots. These days with cadetship programmes and other sponsorship programmes, the chances of getting an airline job from the beginning are much higher, but the flying instructor route should never be discounted. If you haven’t managed to find your dream airline job yet, then what better way to keep your skills honed and earn some money at the same time. You will also be meeting plenty of other pilots with which to network and gain knowledge and experience. Flight Deck Wingman has helped such pilots. Some have been instructing or flying tow planes for gliding clubs for example, and through assistance from Flight Deck Wingman, we have successfully got them to the assessment stage of airline recruitment drives. Contact us today and let’s get started!
Many pilots have found themselves in this position at some point or another, whether it’s at the start of their aviation career, or perhaps things have taken a downturn and they found themselves out of a flying job. Flight Deck Wingman understands that this can be a very frustrating time for many aspiring airline pilots, but there are things that you can do to improve your chances of getting that flying job when the market conditions improve, or your experience level dictates that you can apply to an airline. We have met plenty of pilots that were once cabin crew, or aircraft dispatchers for example. These types of roles are so closely linked to that of being an airline pilot, that not only will they improve your general knowledge of the aviation industry when you come to get your first flying job, but they show real motivation and a passion for the profession when it comes to an interview, or completing an application form etc. Not only that, but you are likely to meet pilots in your day-to-day role, and that’s a great way to network.
When a recruitment window opens, the airline will usually be heavily oversubscribed with applications. If you don’t meet the experience requirements, then the chances are you won’t even be able to apply, as most applications are submitted electronically these days and they will be very specific when asking about your flying experience. Whatever you do, don’t lie! Sometimes you might be very close to meeting their experience requirements. If this is the case, then it may be worth contacting the airline recruitment department directly if you have the means to do so. Networking is also one of the most valuable tools in this industry when it comes to gaining that first job, so try to network when the opportunity arises. Do not despair though, your time will come! Stay motivated, and make sure you keep your ATPL valid.
These type of contracts tend to exist in airlines where the work is very seasonal. Such an example might be a charter airline, where they are very busy in the summer flying to typical family holiday destinations during the school holidays, but in the winter the more traditional European destinations become quieter and the work starts to tail off. In a bid to reduce costs, some companies have implemented contracts such as this where you work seven months on, and then for five months you are unemployed. Other similar schemes also exist. This is certainly something to be aware of once you complete your training, whether it be self-sponsored or through a cadet sponsorship type of scheme. Many cadet sponsorship schemes will offer you a job on completion of the course, at which point you will have to start repaying the loan. This is all very well and good until you get a job with an airline, and then after seven months you discover that you are now are not working for five months, with no pay and no means to repay your loan, or more importantly your bills! Check very carefully when applying to any sponsorship scheme, or if you are self-sponsored when applying to an airline.
The airline industry is constantly under financial pressure, with huge competition from a multitude of different carriers. Due to the unpredictable nature of the airline industry, airlines will always seek to reduce costs where possible. Historically, you would have joined an airline on a full-time contract with all the benefits that that is likely to include, such as a pension, health care, and death in service benefits. Unfortunately in more recent years, many companies do not offer full-time contracts in the early stages of your career. Some companies utilise schemes that have come to be known as “pay to fly”. This means that you effectively pay to work for that airline for a period of time, for example until you have 200 hours on type or similar. This is a practice that BALPA have been campaigning against for some time now, but unfortunately it is still very much prevalent. Other contracts include “zero hours” contracts, which mean that you are only getting paid when you go to work. Now this is great if you are working lots of hours and making some money. The problem comes when you are perhaps ill or unable to work for other reasons, and then you have no form of income. They are not necessarily a bad thing if you are looking to start out in the industry, but you should be aware of how they differ from a full-time contract.
This is the scheme that many airlines still choose to operate. In basic terms, when you join the company you start at the very bottom of the seniority list. As people retire, or as people join below you, you move up the list. There are several benefits and several downsides to this system. Such systems often form the basis of a large degree of debate within the pilot community! The main upsides to the seniority system are that as you progress, you generally gain some benefits from your seniority, whether it be getting the lines of work that you bid for so as to create a magical roster, better job security, or more pay for example. The downsides to a seniority system are that if there is no expansion, or there are a large amount of pilots above you that are not intending to retire any time soon, then you will not progress up the seniority list and gain it’s benefits. More importantly, should the company fall on hard times, those at the bottom of the seniority list will unfortunately be the first to leave the business should it need to make redundancies.
What Type of Work is for Me?
This is going to be a personal choice, and will largely be linked to your experience level, and the airline’s requirements. Inexperienced pilots can expect to start by flying short haul operations, where as those with more hours or experience in other airlines are more likely to gain a long haul position. Generally speaking, as a long haul pilot you don’t go to work on as many days as you do on shorthaul. This might make it sound like it’s not as tiring, and to a large degree this may be true depending on the airline you are working for. However, if you enjoy time at home with your family and friends, or if you don’t cope with jetlag and not sleeping very well, then this may not be the lifestyle for you. If you enjoy handling the aircraft, then don’t expect to get as much hands on flying on long haul as you might expect. It is not uncommon for pilots to only complete one landing every 45 days! That said, long haul offers exciting opportunities to see parts of the world that you may never have never seen before, and spend time socialising with your colleagues down route.
Short haul is obviously very different to the long haul operation. As an inexperienced pilot, you can expect to work as a short haul pilot first. Don’t be dismayed though, short haul offers several benefits over the long haul lifestyle. For example, you will get much more flying, and if you are trying to build experience then that is exactly what you need. You are unlikely to spend as much time away from home, which might appeal to those of you with young families or those of you that just enjoy your time at home. On the downside, you can expect to work many more days than long haul pilots tend to do, and often with a lot of early starts or variable shift patterns. This can make the short haul lifestyle very fatiguing. If you are lucky enough to have the choice between both long haul or short haul flying, then my advice is to speak to pilots flying short haul, and those flying long haul, and ask them what their honest views on it are. If you are joining a company where both types of operation are available, then make your decision wisely-it will be too late to change your mind once you have started the type rating.
This very much depends on your circumstances. If you are new to the industry, then you are probably seeking out a permanent contract. However if you are already a fairly experienced pilot, then some contract work can be very lucrative. Sometimes new pilots to the industry will end up on short term contracts, but most will aspire to a more permanent position, associated career progression, and improved job security.
The main advantages of working for a middle eastern carrier have traditionally been the rapid expansion of the airline meaning quick progression to command, and of course a tax-free salary. Be aware though, if you intend to return to the UK market at some point then you are likely to join at the bottom of seniority list and start all over again. Also, the tax-free salary might sound attractive but the costs of living can be much higher in some of the middle eastern countries than the United Kingdom. It will be interesting to see how the Middle Eastern carriers continue to stack up against the European carriers, now that the price of oil has fallen to ten year lows.
Working in the private jet sector is very different to working for a major airline. There are plenty of benefits to this type of work. You may get to fly for some very interesting people, and the salaries are usually good, with a good chance of fast progression to command. Your flying days will never be the same, and you will perhaps get to take part in some interesting things outside of work with your clients. Pilots that enjoy this kind of work often like to work autonomously, free from the ties that come with working for a larger airline. This can be hugely rewarding and very enjoyable, but it does bring its own unique set of challenges. You will most likely be responsible for not only flying the aircraft, but ensuring that hotels are booked for your clients, that the flight plans have been filed correctly, and that the transport arrangements and engineering support are available wherever the aircraft goes. You should also bear in mind that job security might not be as good as that of a larger airline. If the owner decides to get rid of the aircraft, then it is likely that you will also have to seek employment with another private jet operator.
Well this can be a contentious subject! It really comes to the availability of jobs that your experience suits, and assuming you have a choice of several airlines. The best advice might be to choose the one the best supports the lifestyle you wish to lead. You should also give serious thought to the geographic location of the airline you wish to work for, a long commute into a long day can be very tiring and make it difficult to cover those periods of “standby” that the airline will ask you to cover from time to time. After all, flying airlines should be part of a balanced life. Many pilots choose a job that first and foremost offers the best perceived job security. In truth, every airline has its own benefits and its own downsides. But remember you don’t need to stay in one airline, you can move between airlines if you fancy something different! Bear in mind though, that if they run a seniority system, you will start at the bottom each and every time you move company.
This is a very difficult one to answer, and it really comes down to personal choice and what is available in terms of the job market. Many companies still run seniority based systems, where time to command is purely based on your number – the more senior you are, the more likely you are to get a command. Other companies don’t operate a seniority system, and will award commands on merit once you have the minimum amount of experience that they require for their insurers. Job security and lifestyle are usually the most important factors for most pilots, but of course everybody has their own individual motives and ambitions.
How can Flight Deck Wingman help?
It would be pointless if Flight Deck Wingman were to provide a generic CV for every pilot applying to join an airline, or apply to a cadetship program. Everybody has individual strengths and differing backgrounds. Depending on the service you choose, Flight Deck Wingman will help tailor your CV and covering letter to ensure that it makes the very best of all of your professional and personal attributes. This will make your application shine at each and every stage of the process. Once we have your draft CV, your wingman will review it carefully, and then depending on which service you have chosen, your wingman will either proof read and provide general comments on the appearance and layout of you CV, or if you choose our full CV service, your wingman will provide significant hints and tips on the content and structure of you CV to give it the very best chance of being at the top of the pile on the recruiters’ desk. A good covering letter is perhaps the single most important element of the initial screening process once the recruitment team are satisfied that you’ve met the experience requirements. Don’t let a poor covering letter be the reason that you don’t get through this initial screening process.
Flight Deck Wingman believes that training should come before testing, giving you the tools that will equip you to shine when it comes to the testing element of any airline or airline sponsorship interview. We understand exactly how to construct answers to all types and styles of interview question you will face during this stage of the assessment process. From competency based questions, to industry and all of the usual “getting to know you” questions, we will train you in the techniques to be successful at any interview – “Techniques Not Tip Offs” that really work! If you are able to join one of our industry leading Airline Assessment Preparation Courses, then get ready for a whole day of preparation and practical assessment in interview and group exercise work, working alongside other clients, learning with (and from) each other, all supported by your “Wingman” team of course! If you are unable to attend one of these awesome courses, then why not get in touch for some one-to-one interview training via Skype, backed up with purchasing our 28 page “Guide to Passing Interviews and Group Exercises”? Your Wingman will work closely with you to work on the areas you are less competent in, building the confidence and techniques to be successful at any airline interview. Train to Prepare. Prepare to Succeed. Get Yourself a Wingman!
Group exercises introduce a new dynamic into the assessment process. You’re now not only be looked at as an individual, but also assessed on how you interact with the other group/team members. We understand exactly the competencies that the assessors will be looking for, from both a positive and a negative perspective. Our highly experienced Wingman team are not only all current airline pilots, but also former Military Officers, with extensive additional experience in leadership and teamwork training. Flight Deck Wingman has condensed years of experience into key facts and expert knowledge that will really give you the edge when it comes to this stage of the process. By far the best way to prepare for this part of the assessment process, is to attend one of Airline Assessment Preparation Day Courses. As well as Group Exercise training, you will also have the opportunity to take part in two assessed and de-briefed group exercises. With support and guidance we will discuss all of the positive and negative factors that could influence the outcome of the group exercise Visit this link for more details on the course content.
That’s a great question, and one that Flight Deck Wingman is pleased to answer! As you may have read in the “About” section, Flight Deck Wingman’s founder knows just what it’s like to make this transition. Some people make the move very naturally from the military type ethos, into the civilian aviation world. For some pilots however, this can be more challenging. Firstly, we can give you honest and frank opinions on the type of work that is out there, and with backgrounds in charter work and scheduled work, in both a long haul and short haul capacity, Flight Deck Wingman has a wealth of commercial aviation experience built over many years in the civilian world. Our entire Wingman team are not only current airline pilots, but also all former military pilots – nobody understands your experience and crucially, how to translate that experience, better. Our leading ‘IP to Flight Deck’ Military Transition Day Courses will help you gain the essential skills and competencies to ensure that you are able to translate your experience on the day of your assessment. Get in touch with [email protected] if you want to have a general chat about the transition – we would be delighted to have a free and no obligations chat about life “outside”.
See what Flight Deck Wingman’s founder, Andrew has to say about military pilots and the transition to the civilian world of aviation here!
Licensing and Type Ratings
Yes, absolutely. With so much change taking place under EASA, it is hugely important that you keep up-to-date with these changes with regard to your licence, so that when a job comes up that matches your experience, you are ready to go.
This depends on where you are looking for work. In simple terms, if you are looking for work within an EASA country, then you will most probably now require an EASA license. If you are looking for work in the Middle East, for example, then you won’t. Some of you may still have the old JAR license, which may still be valid, but if you are applying to new companies they may insist that you upgrade to the EASA license. This can also be a prerequisite for an application, so it’s worth getting your license upgraded at the earliest opportunity. This can be done online via the CAA website, or in person at the CAA building. Get your paperwork in order before attending in person to save a wasted journey!
This is a difficult one to answer, as those pilots that have done just this and got jobs as a result, would say that it is exactly why they got that job. There are plenty of pilots have gone down this route, utilising companies that are very happy to take your money in order to gain a type rating. The problem comes when most of the airlines require hours on type, and not just the type rating. There is no point in having the type rating if you don’t have the hours on type that the airline is looking for. Also, by completing a type rating at huge expense, you are only type rated on that particular type of aircraft. If a new job appears that is on a different type of aircraft, then it is highly likely that your investment in this type rating will have been less than useful. Most airlines these days will put you through type rating when you join the company anyway. Some will charge you for this, and it will be deducted from your salary over the coming years. Some airlines won’t charge you for your type rating, so it’s definitely worth checking this out when applying for different companies. Also bear in mind that if the airline has paid for your type rating, you may very well find that you are bonded to that airline ie. If you leave that airline within the bonding period (usually around three years), then you will be required to repay the type rating.
All airlines will require you to have an MCC qualification – it’s a mandated requirement. However, a JOC or APS course may not be mandated. These types of course are a fairly recent evolution and there are plenty of companies prepared to take your money, but as to whether it improves your chances of gaining that job or not, then that is probably open to interpretation. That said, when it comes to a simulator assessment, it is likely that you will feel more confident and prepared going into that assessment if you have completed a course such as the JOC or APS. It all comes down to your finances, and whether it is a pre-requisite of employment with that company anyway.
Flight Deck Wingman Top Tips
It might surprise some of you new to the aviation industry to learn that most of our job is not related to flying the aircraft. It is very much a management occupation, driving profitability for the airline, with a heavy emphasis on how you interact with your colleagues, passengers and the general public alike. Many airline interviewers will try and probe other elements of your character and abilities. Being able to demonstrate that you are a good team member, or indeed happy to take a leadership role, along with a degree of motivation will all be positive factors when it comes to meeting your interviewers. Getting involved with clubs or societies, for example the local gliding club, might be just the ticket when it comes to balancing out all those professional qualities that you’ve worked so hard for.
Airline recruiters are looking for a broad spectrum of attributes from potential candidates. They will be looking to see that you are professionally competent, commercially aware, and able to interact positively with your colleagues and the general public alike. They will be looking to see that you are team player, and that you do not shy away from a leadership role when required. The list goes on. Flight Deck Wingman will ensure that you display all of these positive attributes (and more) from the start of the application process right through the assessment process, until we secure you that dream job. Contact Flight Deck Wingman today to see how we can best help you.
Right here! Flight Deck Wingman understands what it’s like to move airline after a number of years. You will have invaluable experience, and perhaps just need some help and support in directing your experience into the answers that the recruiters are looking for. Most interviews these days involve a pilot and an HR representative, and will have a heavy emphasis on “competency” based questions. This means that you may be assessed in a very different manner to that which you have previously been. Flight Deck Wingman will be with you, with a comprehensive application and assessment support package. Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve your goals.
This very much depends on the type of operation that the airline conducts, and on your experience and background. Depending on your experience, and whether you have flown the aircraft before they will expect different degrees of professional competence in flying the aircraft. You will be expected to demonstrate a sound knowledge of things like procedural holds, and to listen to and follow instructions carefully. More importantly though, you will be expected to demonstrate a safe operation when pilot flying, and offer excellent support to your colleague when you are the pilot monitoring. Many pilots make the mistake of thinking that this is a test of your flying ability, and whilst there is certainly an element of that, most of the time you will be being assessed on how you interact with your colleague during the simulator test. Flight Deck Wingman will ensure that you are well prepared for the simulator test. Your wingman will demonstrate how to conduct an effective briefing and de-briefing, how to be an inclusive flight deck team member, and coping strategies if things start to go wrong! Flight Deck Wingman would also be happy to suggest training organisations should you wish to go and get some practice in a simulator.
Airlines closely guard the test questions that they use to filter candidates at this stage of the process. However, should you wish to practise (and practise you must), then there are a wealth of tests out there on the internet, and on internet chat forums such as www.pprune.org you will usually find guidance from candidates that have recently attended selection processes. Check out this link and consider purchasing some practice questions in preparation. You must spend time practising multiple verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning tests. There is strong evidence to suggest that the more you practice these tests, the higher the likelihood of you passing this initial screening stage of an airline assessment process. If you’re not sure where to start, then please just get in touch. Flight Deck Wingman would be delighted to help you. In the meantime, check out the guidance on verbal/numerical reasoning and aptitude tests here on the website, where we have provided some hints and tips. Also keep an eye out on the Flight Deck Wingman Facebook page, where we will introduce the odd question to test your knowledge!